Reading and activity ideas for your Chatterbooks group
and Brita Granstrӧm
Chatterbooks Activity Pack
2 Mick Manning and Brita Granstrӧm Chatterbooks Activity Pack
Mick Manning and Brita Granstrӧm
Mick Manning and Brita Granstrӧm are husband and wife author-illustrators of a wide range of
inspirational non-fiction picture books – this Chatterbooks pack introduces you to a selection of
their books to enjoy in your reading groups, together with ideas for discussion and activity around
The pack is brought to you by The Reading Agency and Children’s Reading Partners publisher
Frances Lincoln Children’s Books.
Chatterbooks [ www.readinggroups.org/chatterbooks] is a reading group programme for children
aged 4 to 14 years. It is coordinated by The Reading Agency and its patron is author Dame
Jacqueline Wilson. Chatterbooks groups run in libraries and schools, supporting and inspiring
children’s literacy development by encouraging them to have a really good time reading and talking
The Reading Agency is an independent charity working to inspire more people to read more
through programmes for adults, young people and Children – including the Summer Reading
Challenge, and Chatterbooks. See www.readingagency.org.uk
Children’s Reading Partners is a national partnership of children’s publishers and libraries working
together to bring reading promotions and author events to as many children and young people as
3 Mick and Brita
3 …and a selection of their books, plus more reading ideas
7 Activity ideas for your reading groups, inspired by Mick and Brita’s books
For help in planning your Chatterbooks meeting, have a look at these Top Tips for a Successful
3 Mick Manning and Brita Granstrӧm Chatterbooks Activity Pack
Mick and Brita…
Mick Manning grew up in Haworth, West Yorkshire, and studied Illustration at the Royal College of
Art in London.
Brita Granstrӧm grew up on a farm in Sweden and studied Illustration at Konstfack in Stockholm.
Mick and Brita have four sons and live in the Scottish Borders. Their books for Frances Lincoln
include Taff in the WAAF* which won the 4-11 English Association Award for KS2 Non-Fiction in
2011. Mick and Brita are also the author-illustrators of the much-praised ‘Fly on the Wall’ series:
Roman Fort, Viking Longship, Pharaoh’s Egypt* and Greek Hero, which won the 2008 KS2 Non-
Fiction Award. Other titles include Charles Dickens: An Extraordinary Life and What Mr Darwin
Saw*, described by the Bookseller magazine as “a must for curious young readers”, and Nature
Adventures, an exciting and inspirational wildlife handbook, encouraging us all to go out and
engage with the natural world.
Mick and Brita were elected as Fellows of the English Association in 2011, and in 2013 they were
nominated for the Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award, which honours top authors and illustrators
throughout the world.
They have a website at www.mickandbrita.com *Featured in this Chatterbooks pack
…and a selection of their books
Pharaoh’s Egypt 978-1845075781
Learn all about the Egyptian way of life around 1250BC, as we meet the
noble and majestic Pharaoh, watch the scribes at work in the palace, delve
deep into the tombs and worship at the temples. With flies, sand, bloody
fingerprints plastering the pages, this is a book that will have the ancient
Egyptians springing from its pages.
Part of the Fly on the Wall non-fiction series based on 'fly-on-the-wall'
Ramesses II’s Egypt is a civilised country and he is a powerful king. Many different people live and
have to work hard in the Pharoah’s New Kingdom. Let’s look in on some of them as they go about
their daily lives…
More to read: fiction with an Egyptian theme
Theresa Breslin The Dream Master Corgi 978-0440863823
Julia Jarman The Time-Travelling Cat and the Egyptian Goddess Andersen 978-1842705216
Geraldine McCaughrean Casting the Gods Adrift A&C Black 978-0713674552
Jacqueline Wilson The Cat Mummy Yearling 978-0440868576
4 Mick Manning and Brita Granstrӧm Chatterbooks Activity Pack
The Secrets of Stonehenge 978-1847803467
Why was this amazing monument erected? How did our Stone-Age ancestors
bring such massive stones to the site from so far away? How did they raise the
enormous stones to their upright positions? What was Stonehenge used for,
and who lived around the site?
With captions and pictures, and using up-to-the-minute research discoveries,
Mick Manning and Brita Granström tell the incredible true story of this awe-
inspiring monument – one of the greatest ancient sites in the world.
After the Ice Age ended, large areas of Britain became a tangle of trees and undergrowth known as
the ‘Wildwood’…Some places, such as the chalky uplands of Salisbury Plain, may have been free of
trees. We can’t be sure, but perhaps humans thought of these open spaces as special or even
magical in some way…
More to read: fiction about early Britain
Clive King Stig of the Dump Puffin 978-0141329697
Michelle Paver Wolf Brother Orion 978-1842551318
Rosemary Sutcliff Warrior Scarlet Farrar Strauss &
Rosemary Sutcliff Sun Horse Moon Horse (e book) RHCP Digital ASIN: B00CA88L74
What Mr Darwin Saw 978-1847801074
In 1831, at only 22 years old, Darwin was offered the position of
Naturalist on HMS Beagle's world voyage.
He was set to become a clergyman but returns after five years at
sea an inspired genius. This book follows the journey of HMS
Beagle, showing life on-board the ship for Darwin, the captain,
crew and the expedition's artist. The reader sees Darwin
discovering and observing insect life in Brazil, fossils in Argentina ,
earthquakes in Chile and turtles in the Galapagos Islands. The
reader is therefore able to follow the steps which led to Darwin's
inspired theory of evolution, while also showing the adventures
and escapades he had during the voyage.
More to read about Darwin and evolution
Nick Hunter Charles Darwin (Science Biographies) Raintree 978-1406272451
Glenn Murphy Evolution: the Whole Life on Earth Story Macmillan 978-1447254607
5 Mick Manning and Brita Granstrӧm Chatterbooks Activity Pack
Taff in the WAAF 978-1847804150
Mick Manning's mother was a young woman in Wales at the
outbreak of World War II. This fascinating book, a companion to
the the very successful Tail-End Charlie about Mick's father's life
in the RAF in World War II, tells her story using the same
innovative non-fiction narrative style. At the outbreak of war
and the start of food rationing, she left school aged 14 to work in
a local greengrocer's shop. Later joining the WAAF (the Women's
Auxiliary Air Force), she became a wireless operator and
eventually a Y service listener for the secret signal decoding
operation at Bletchley Park where the famous German Enigma
Code was cracked. The book also looks at other essential women's roles during the war including the ATS
(Auxiliary Territorial Service), the Wrens (Women's Royal Naval Service), Land Army, Fire Service etc, and a
wide range of aspects of life affected by the war effort. Simply written and using speech bubbles and
captioned illustration boxes of artefacts and documents from the period, this is a dramatic and engaging
introduction to its subject.
Winner of The English Association 4-11 Book Awards - Key Stage 2 Non-Fiction
Tail-End Charlie 978-1847800756
As a boy, Mick Manning listened to his father’s hair-raising tales
about life as an RAF airgunner during the Second World War. Now,
years later, he has carefully recreated his father's stories, writing
them down as if his dad was speaking the words. In collaboration
with Brita, he has illustrated them too. It’s for Charlie’s
grandchildren – and for everyone. Find out what it was really like
to: put up with food rationing … undergo RAF Training… take
off in a bomber… face enemy fighters…
survive the Battle of the Bulge…
More to read about WW2
Nina Bawden Carrie’s War Puffin 978-0141345185
Louise Borden & Michael Foreman The Little Ships Frances Lincoln 978-1847800817
Michael Foreman War Boy Pavilion 978-1843650874
Shirley Hughes The Lion and the Unicorn Red Fox 978-0099256083
Ian McEwan & Roberto Innocenti Rose Blanche Red Fox 978-0099439509
Mick Manning & Brita Granstrom My Uncle’s Dunkirk Franklin Watts 978-0749693428
Marcia Williams My Secret War Diary Walker 978-1406309409
6 Mick Manning and Brita Granstrӧm Chatterbooks Activity Pack
The Beatles 978-1847804518
How did four cheeky lads from Liverpool – John, Paul, George and Ringo –
become the greatest rock band in the world? Mick Manning and Brita
Granström tell the amazing story of The Beatles with captions and strip
pictures for fans of all ages.
The story begins… John Lennon’s Liverpool childhood, his Auntie Mimi,
his school band The Quarrymen; the developing friendships with Paul
McCartney and George Harrison and the forming of The Beatles together with Stu Sutcliff and Pete
Best. From amusing adventures in Hamburg to the arrival of manager Brian Epstein and record
producer George Martin. Then Ringo Starr joins the group; fame and screaming fans; the famous
tour to the USA; the making of the albums, key hit songs and early films… then the later years, with
the gigantic Sgt Pepper album, their visit to India, the making of Magical Mystery Tour. Finally
comes the break-up of the band and the new beginnings of solo careers for the Fab Four.
More to read:
rock music & rock groups
Michael Burgan Popular Culture 1960-1979 Raintree 9781406240306
Robert Muchamore Rock War (for older readers) Hodder 978-1444914535
Nature School 978-1845078447
Your very own nature adventures in a book! Mick Manning and Brita Granström
show you how easy it is to become a nature explorer! Nature School takes you on an
exciting adventure to discover the secrets of nature, learn how to find and preserve
wildlife and make you feel closer to the world around you.
It's dino-dinnertime but who eats what, and who eats who? How do we know what
dinosaurs ate? Who hunted as a team? Who ate with their head in the treetops, and
who ate absolutely anything they could find? Discover exactly what is on the menu, as
you are invited to attend this dinner party with a difference!
More to read: dinosaurs
Jinny Johnson Clash of the Dinos Frances Lincoln 978-1781716816
Stella Maidment Dinosaur on the Island Frances Lincoln 978-1781716533
7 Mick Manning and Brita Granstrӧm Chatterbooks Activity Pack
Activity ideas for your reading group
All of Mick and Brita’s books use lots of inventive and creative ways to present
Have a look at as many of their books as possible.
With each book pick out and make a list of inventive ideas used to make an effect -
eg. comic strip format; speech bubbles; photographs of real documents (letters,
forms, postcards, cigarette cards etc); information panels; full-page pictures;
different type-faces; collage.
Talk about the effects achieved – do these ideas help to get the information across?
Discuss how you like to learn information. How well do Mick and Brita’s books work
for you? Do you prefer just text? Or text with pictures?
Look at other non-fiction books and talk about the ways they aim to get information
Make your own Chatterbooks group information book in the style of Mick and Brita!
Agree a topic for your book – eg ‘Pets’, with each person doing a page on a different
pet; or ‘Our Favourite Things’, with each person doing a page on whatever interests
them the most.
For each page:
Research and gather together information
Decide what information you will actually use on your page – what are the
main things you want to say?
What will you say through text, and what will you get across with pictures?
Look at your list of presentation ideas from Mick and Brita’s books and choose
which ones you will use – eg. some text in a special information panel; some
information via speech bubbles; using photographs.
Any more presentation ideas of your own?
Talk about what a glossary is – and do a glossary page for your book – decide on the
key words you’ll put in, then each person does a word and an explanation for the
Design a cover for your book – then put all the pages together to make your book,
maybe by sticking the pages in a scrapbook.
8 Mick Manning and Brita Granstrӧm Chatterbooks Activity Pack
Or you could do a big group information poster using collage.
Agree your subject
And the main things you want to say on the poster
Get together lots of old magazines and newspapers
Cut out pictures, blocks of text, and individual words and letters which will get
your message across
Arrange them and agree the layout, then stick everything down for your
You could add in speech bubbles – as Mick and Brita do, eg. in Pharaoh’s Day
Activities linked to individual titles
Have a look at the hieroglyphs on page 14 – the Egyptians used this form of writing, with pictures
for individual letters or whole words.
Here’s the alphabet in hieroglyphs – have a go at writing a message using these symbols.
What Mr Darwin Saw
Collect on a flip chart all the things Charles Darwin saw on his travels – have two columns: What he
saw and Where he saw it – eg. Soldier ants – Salvador rainforest.
You could then transfer this information to a map, to get a good view of Darwin’s travels and
From the fossils and creatures that he saw Darwin developed his theory of evolution – that
organisms, including man, change gradually over time, in response to the demands of their
environment, and thus all species have developed from earlier forms of life on earth.
9 Mick Manning and Brita Granstrӧm Chatterbooks Activity Pack
Taff in the WAAF and Tail-End Charlie
In these books Mick and Brita use the framework of original documents such as letters, postcards,
telegrams, photographs and log-book pages.
Talk about: Imagine that in the future your grandchildren want to write a book about you. What
will they have which gives them information about your life? Will there still be any written/paper
documentation? Or will it all be contained and preserved digitally - eg. your emails, your Facebook
How might they present your biography, and your stories?
Have a go at creating a Pinterest page which tells people something about you.
Taff in the WAAF tells us a lot about aspects of World War 2. Find out more about:
Bletchley Park and the Enigma code-cracking machine
Here is a poem written by a WW2 airman like Charlie. Read it aloud for everyone to hear, then talk
about how the poem makes you feel.
How do you think Charlie feels about flying? What does he tell us in Tail-End Charlie?
Oh! I have slipped the surly bonds of earth,
And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings;
Sunward I've climbed, and joined the tumbling mirth
Of sun-split clouds, --and done a hundred things
You have not dreamed of --Wheeled and soared and swung
High in the sunlit silence. Hov'ring there
I've chased the shouting wind along, and flung
My eager craft through footless halls of air...
Up, up the long, delirious, burning blue
I've topped the wind-swept heights with easy grace
Where never lark or even eagle flew --
And, while with silent lifting mind I've trod
The high untrespassed sanctity of space,
Put out my hand, and touched the face of God. John Gillespie Magee
10 Mick Manning and Brita Granstrӧm Chatterbooks Activity Pack
Talk about: The Beatles were a new and exciting phenomenon on the pop scene of the 60s – totally
thrilling for teenagers of the time.
Has any music, pop group, film or games-playing has been so new and exciting in your life that it’s
taken your breath away?
Listen to some Beatles songs. Get the words for these songs so you can read them and sing along.
Which is your favourite song?
Find out the meaning of the names of the dinosaurs in this book – and add in a bit of information
about each creature.
Dinosaur name Meaning of name – plus more information
Edmontosaurus Edmonton lizard: a duck-billed dinosaur